Visual self-recognition was examined utilizing the mirror-rouge paradigm in a sample of 18- to 21-month-old toddlers of depressed (n = 91) and nondepressed (n = 43) mothers in regard to linkages with cognitive and affective development. Overall, attainment of self-recognition was not related to differences in level of cognitive development, pre-rouge affective expression, or maternal depression. However, children of depressed mothers who exhibited self-recognition were more likely than children of nondepressed mothers to display nonpositive affect and to shift affect from positive to nonpositive in the post-rouge condition. Within the group of children of depressed mothers, toddlers who did not evidence self-recognition and who shifted affect were lower in attachment security and had mothers with less positive affect characteristics. Also, self-recognition and affective instability were related to differences in cognitive developmental level among toddlers of depressed mothers. Findings are discussed in terms of implications for understanding the relations between affect and cognition and the influence of maternal depression on affective and cognitive development.
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This investigation was supported through a grant and scientific MERIT award from the Prevention Research Branch (MH45027) of the National Institute of Mental Health. We extend our appreciation to Yvette Auger, Sara Baltman, Lori Costa, Barbara Fox, Tami Kelly Noel, John Mandelman, Angeline Maughan, Martha McKenna, Jennifer Meltzer, Chris Morley, Michelle Parker, Kristina Rauscher, Elizabeth Sather, Lindsay Schenkel, Jodi Steigerwald, Audrey Thurm, Cheryl Trescott, Kirsten Van Meenen, Kelly Voll, and Hope Wegman for their help and support.